Ten graduation cap design ideas

By Emma Palatnik, Assistant Features Editor

A quick search of “graduation caps” on Pinterest brings thousands of different design ideas. Decorating graduation caps is a tradition that many graduating seniors partake in every year. Picking the best design can be difficult, so here are a few ideas to make your cap stand out.

The Illinois cap

The basic and probably most common graduation cap design is an Illinois theme. Although not the most unique idea, a cap decked out in orange and blue with “Illinois” spelled out is a viable option. It’s a way to show Illini pride one last time.

Find some photos

A more creative idea is to decorate your cap with photos. This is pretty simple to make and not very time consuming. The cap is essentially a photo collage of your best memories from college. Polaroids add an interesting effect, but regular photos work just as well.

Write your yearbook quote

For high school graduation, seniors select a favorite quote for the yearbook. It can be interesting to repeat this tradition and put a favorite quote on your cap. It can be embellished and well decorated, but plain text works as well. It’s for the graduate to decide.

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Follow the trend

It has become a fad in recent years to “binge” watch Netflix or television. To pay tribute to the millennial trend, the cap can be themed to a favorite TV show or movie. Some interesting ideas are “Harry Potter,” “Spongebob,” “Mean Girls” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” The list is endless.

Focus on your major

If you’re looking for a different take that is more related to college, try a cap dedicated to personal majors. A play on words with “Bachelor of Science” or “Bachelor of Arts” could be interesting. The cap could be decorated for nearly any major, but some majors that work particularly well are science, nursing, math and the arts.

Keep it simple

Something more typical is a simple design such as a flower. It may seem basic or boring, but if it is done right, it could turn out beautiful. An intricate design makes for a graduation cap that stands out from the rest.

Use a song lyric

This is similar to the yearbook quote idea, but a song or music reference can be a way to make a graduation cap more personalized. Everyone has a favorite song, so this could be a fairly easy design. It could even be created on a computer, printed out and attached to the cap.


Thank your parents

This idea is a nice way to pay tribute to those who have supported students throughout their careers: parents. A simple, “Thanks, mom and dad,” will make parents cry even more than they already would for their graduating seniors.

Pay tribute to your favorite coffee shop

It seems like all college students run on coffee, so a graduation cap design could reflect that. Here at the University, there are multiple coffee shops that students visit daily. The cap could either be coffee-themed or dedicated to Starbucks, Espresso Royale or Dunkin’ Donuts.

The travel theme

The final idea is a travel or journey theme. Graduating college is the next step in entering the real world, and many seniors opt to take a trip before they start working. This also reflects the idea that life is a journey and graduating college is just the beginning of it.

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